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Educational Philosophy

The University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine (UIWSOM) Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) Program curriculum stresses independent study and self-directed learning. The 4-year program begins by building upon small and large group interactive case-based learning experiences, and focuses on conceptual knowledge acquisition, critical thinking, and clinical reasoning—not rote memorization and recall of facts.

All engagements with faculty facilitators are designed to utilize assessment to guide learning and evaluation to improve outcomes.  All UIWSOM educational programs are built upon and is continuously informed by these guiding principles:

  • Reflect the UIW and UIWSOM mission, vision, and values
  • Support adult learning and educational principles.
  • Synthesize the science of medical knowledge for clinical practice.
  • Develop critical thinking, clinical reasoning, and reflective practice.
  • Integrateosteopathic principles in education and professional practice


As part of their program of research into professional preparedness, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching sponsored the authorship of Educating Physicians: A Call for Reform of Medical School and Residency (2010).  Educating Physicians, rooted in Flexner’s (1910) seminal work, argued for key educational practices that medical schools would need to adopt in order to produce the next generation of physicians, including an intentional integration of clinically applied biomedical sciences, early exposure to experiential learning, and professional identity formation, with an emphasis on healthcare teams, social accountability and cultural awareness.

To this end, the UIWSOM DO curriculum was developed from the ground up as an integrated curriculum designed to spiral content throughout all phases of the program and to support osteopathic medical students in their attainment of the knowledge, skills and abilities expected at each level of training, culminating with entry into graduate medical education programs.

Curriculum Overview

The UIWSOM curriculum is divided into Phases that include weekly longitudinal community engagement and early clinical experience activities

Phases I is comprised of eight integrated units with unit nine serving as a capstone.  All units are organized around weekly themes that illustrate our curricular components: osteopathic principles and practices, professional identity formation and applied biomedical sciences.  Additionally, six curricular threads are weaved throughout the curriculum and include: Mental Health and Wellness, Spirituality, Social Accountability, Service and Scholarship, Student Success, Mentoring and Advising, Board Preparation, Evidence-based Medicine. Contact hours are limited each week to allow for ample self-directed learning time, review and reinforcement. 

1. Essentials/EMT

2. MSK, Touch and Personhood

3. Molecules, Cells, Compassion

4. Host Defense and Communication

5. GI System, Nutrition, Appetite

6. Circulation, Respiration, Regulation

7. Endocrine Reproduction Respect

8. Mind Brain, and Behavior

9. Capstone (Spirituality, Mental Health and Wellness)

Phase II (year 3 & 4) consists of eight six-week core rotations. Fourth year has a required four-week Emergency Medicine  core rotation, three selectives and five elective rotations.  A Reflection, Integration and Assessment week is scheduled every 12 weeks between every two rotations. The following core rotations are:

  • Family Medicine
  • General Surgery
  • Internal Medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Psychiatry
  • Womens Health
  • Underserved
  • Hospital Medicine
  • Emergency Medicine

An OPP/OMM longitudinal integrated clerkship (LIC) component is part of Phase II.

At the end of Phase II, students participate in COMLEX-USA Level 2-CE and Level 2-PE preparation and travel for the examination.  Student engage in a three week Ready for Residency unit, during which they are assessed for the entry-level ACGME PGY1 Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs).

A visual map of the curriculum can be found here.